This year R U OK? and Suicide Awareness Day could not be more important. Many of us have been under terrible pressure due to the pandemic. In Australia and around the world, we have seen huge job losses, border closures, lockdowns, disruptions to the school year and many of us have been separated from our family and friends. For young children and teenagers this has been particularly stressful. Important milestones have been taken away or changed and there is a sense of grief about what has been lost but also anxiety for when will we be back to normal and how long this will last.

As human beings we thrive on connection. This is one of the amazing aspects that separates ASG from other schools ­– it is our sense of community and connection. That’s why this year, it is so important to ask R U OK? Not just annually on 10 September but to continually check in on our family and friends to help cope with the stress of this unique period of isolation. At the Primary Campus, fellow School Counsellor Mrs Jo Mansergh and I have been facilitating a range of wellbeing workshops to help enhance children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

On R U OK? Day, we had discussions about what has changed this year. At the Secondary Campus we focused on R U OK? Day during our pastoral sessions as well as running our ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ program throughout the Term. This includes important aspects such as:

  • How to ask someone if they are OK?
  • Ensuring you ask the person in a private space and to be relaxed and friendly when asking if someone is OK.
  • Practice using open questions such as “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?” to help them open up.
  • Understanding that if they don’t want to talk, it’s fine to let them know you’re concerned about their recent behaviour and that you care about them.
  • The importance of letting someone know you are here whenever they need to talk.

If you have asked someone, “R U OK?” and they said they aren’t – what do you do next? If they have been really down for more than two weeks, it could be time for them to seek professional advice. The best first stop is the GP.

If you have any questions regarding your child’s mental wellbeing or that of a friend’s, please contact either Mrs Jo Mansergh or myself.

Below are some support services to consider:

Gabrielle Stafford
School Counsellor